-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Stonie Williams
Witchblade Issue #1
Writer – Caitlin Kittredge
Artist – Roberta Ingranata
Colorist – Bryan Valenza
“Death is not the end. Death is a doorway. And on the other side… Rebirth.”
Fair warning! No story or plot spoilers here. I do discuss some details in comparison to the previous Witchblade series.
Alex Underwood works in the Witness Aid Services Unit in the office of the District Attorney. The wife of a corrupt cop, Myra Groves, has come forward, filing a report against her husband. It’s Alex’s job to make sure the client is safe until the case can go to trial.
Alex finds herself plagued with dreams and a voice speaking to her even while she’s awake. She sees waking visions of Myra lying dead and still begging for Alex to save her. Are the vision and voice connected to past events? Is it all just her PTSD from her time overseas? Or is it all portents of something more, something… bigger?
So, I have to start this off by saying that I am a huge, massive, ginormous, insane fan of Top Cow comics. For me, it all started with the first Witchblade series. Michael Turner and the Top Cow crew opened my eyes to what comic books could be. I was 11 when Witchblade came out. My Mom worked at the local comic store and brought home the first issue. Up until then, I’d read very little outside of super-heroes. X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legionaries, and Green Lantern populated my comic boxes. I had recently discovered Image’s CyberForce and WildC.A.T.S., but it was all still very super-hero influenced at the time. Vertigo’s Sandman was the furthest I’d strayed from the spandex genre. So Witchblade blew my pubescent mind. Top Cow dominated my house in the following years with the release of The Darkness. I tell this story so you, Dear Reader, can understand exactly what the re-imagining of this series means to me.
You can’t talk about the original Witchblade without acknowledging the cheesecake-ness of it. It was very much a product of its time. Top Cow changed direction to keep up with the change in readership needs and wants. I won’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy the artwork as I grew into my teenage years, but as I matured in my reading, so did Witchblade. I loved the series from start to finish. Yet, I’m not sure Top Cow could ever shake the cheesecake association with Witchblade.
That’s one of the things I find so exciting about this re-imagining. With an all-female creative team, Witchblade has a chance to take a leap forward. It can become something new and modern with not only a clean slate but a fresh one. I walked in with no expectations. I had no knowledge of where they were taking Witchblade and it’s mythos. And boy do they deliver in this first issue.
Ingranata’s artwork is gorgeous. She ticks all the boxes for what I look for in a comic. Characters that are expressive actors. Dynamic camera angles. Even “people standing in a room talking” gives you something to look at while you get an information dump. I don’t know how much camera angle discussion happens between Kittredge and Ingranata, but they’re drawn in a very cinematic way. I also look for a cohesive feel and flow with the tone of the story. Details can make or break a story for me as well. Some panels have lots of detail and things to look at and I found myself stopping to see what’s on people’s desks. The panels she leaves less detailed draws attention to the subject in such a dramatic way. You don’t notice there’s minimal use of space there.
I have to applaud Valenza’s use of color, light, and shadows throughout the book. It drove that cinematic feeling of the book home and lent great support to Ingranata’s art. The mundane scenes felt grounded in reality and the other-worldly aspects popped in a wonderful way.
Kittredge’s story is compelling and left no point of lull or drag. You get hints and pieces of the bigger picture as Alex tries to focus on protecting Myra. It’s frustrating in the best of ways and leaves me hungry for the next issue. It’s hard not to draw comparisons or try to match similarities with the original series. There aren’t many places you find them. I found Alex Underwood and Sara Pezzini, the original Witchblade, similar in nature, so far. Both compelled to help where they can and willing to risk their own safety for the sake of others. Both are smart, driven, and what you look for in good heroines.
This Witchblade has a voice and is able to communicate on a level the previous version didn’t. There have been past bearers, like with the original story. Yet, the source of the Witchblade, the way it’s used, and specifics wasn’t defined quite yet. It does seem to exhibit powers that stray from the original. Some of the special effects were interesting. It makes a long time Top Cow fan speculate. What is the connection, or will one exist, between this Witchblade and The Darkness? The recently announced re-imagining of The Darkness is to come out in Oct. 2018.
As such a big fan of the original series, I have to say when it comes to all of these changes and deviations from the original…
I love it. Every last bit of it. This is exactly what The Witchblade needed with a re-imagining. The tone is a bit darker, less gratuitous female nudity, and the bones of what The Witchblade was are intact. The spirit is still there. What Michael Turner and the rest of the Top Cow crew started, at least according this fan, doesn’t just live on. It thrives in the hands of Caitlin Kittredge and Roberta Ingranata. I am in love with this book. I’m excited to tag along with Alex Underwood on her journey as the new bearer of The Witchblade. There is some violence, but nothing you don’t see on prime-time TV. I’d suggest this for even more youthful readers. My 9yr old would have no problem with this book, but I wouldn’t go any younger. Until next time, happy reading!